Northwood Elementary design receives 2016 Honor Award

November 15, 2016 - Mahlum Architects has been awarded the prestigious Honor Award for 2016 from AIA Seattle for its design of Northwood Elementary School on Mercer Island, one of only three given this year and the only one given to a school building.

The jury said the extraordinary eco-friendly design of Northwood, which opened to students this fall, "makes me rethink the environment I let my kids grow up in."

“What a tribute this award represents, not only for the efforts that the Mahlum Architects team put forth, but also that of countless others in our Island community who must be commended for helping in this achievement,” said Superintendent Dr. Gary Plano.

The jurors, Mimi Hoang of nARCHITECTS in New York and Anna Dyson, who teaches at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, praised Northwood at the recent awards presentation in Benaroya Hall: “This is the project that nearly brought us to tears.” They called Northwood “so well scaled that as an adult you really felt a little too big.” 

In their remarks to the audience published in the Daily Journal of Commerce, they also lauded Northwood’s “interconnected yet clearly legible” spaces that make occupants feel expansive and connected with the outdoors.

The building layers learning spaces around a courtyard that opens to the restored Madrona grove and the Boys & Girls Club next door. Learning spaces ring the courtyard, featuring classrooms on two levels to the North and community spaces to engage site partners to the south. The building’s materials and acoustic design serve spatial connections seamlessly, and the jurors noted that “normally it would be impossible to place the cafeteria next to a library.”

Northwood was selected from among 146 entries in the AIA Seattle Honor Awards. The Mahlum team led by Rebecca Hutchinson, David Mount and JoAnn Wilcox partnered with the Northwood design team, the Mercer Island School Board, the City’s Design Commission and district staff in creating the building following the community’s historic approval of the 2014 bond proposition. Bayley Construction of Mercer Island served as the general contractor and Brandy Fox of CPM Seattle managed the project for the district.


Contact: Craig Degginger, 206-236-4514


Northwood courtyard